Belichick on Mankins: We'll take his situation day-to-day

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Belichick on Mankins: We'll take his situation day-to-day

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

The return of Logan Mankins was the highlight of Bill Belichicks Tuesday conference call. Unsurprisingly, the Patriots coach was happy to have his Pro-Bowl guard back.

"It's good to have him back on the team," Belichick said. "He's part of the team now; he's reported. He's been a tough, smart, dependable player. He's done all those things since he's been here and you can't have too many guys like that on your football team. So we're glad he's back."

When asked if the Patriots had a roster exemption following Mankins' return he replied that the transaction wouldnt be turned in until later in the day. "But I would expect it though, yes," the coach concluded.

As for how the team plans to proceed with playing time, Belichick said he was dealing with the situation "day to day." He made it clear that the team sees no point in dwelling on Mankinss holdout and just wants to move forward.

"I don't want to get into any of that. It doesn't matter; he's here. We're getting ready for Cleveland . . . got a big game on Sunday, so we're getting ready for that. I don't want to rehash anything that's happened in the past."

The coach was quite complimentary of the Browns. He was less focused on Cleveland's overall 2-5 record than its 30-17 win over the defending Super Bowl champion Saints on Week 7.

"Cleveland is a real physical team; tough, hard-nosed running football team," Belichick said. "They're tough on defense, good in the kicking game. Got some good young players who have stepped up. They don't give up a lot of points. Peyton Hillis has done a good job for them, running the ball, breaking tackles, keeping them in short-yard situations."

It sounds like Hillis is a running back the Patriots will have to key on in particular.

"He's a big physical runner . . . a tough kid who breaks a lot of tackles," Belichick said. "They use him on all three downs. He's in there in sub situations as well. He knows where the goal line is . . . doesn't lose a lot of yardage. He's been impressive."

Who Hillis will be getting the ball from, of course, is not certain. Browns coach Eric Mangini still hasn't picked a starter now going into Week 9. But whether his team faces rookie Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace or Jake Delhomme, Belichick seems as unfazed about Cleveland's quarterback quandary as he was last week with Minnesotas FavreJackson toss-up.

"All the players that are on the roster and eligible to play we'll prepare for," he stated.

Game planning for tight end Benjamin Watson, who was with the Patriots until March of 2010, should be interesting. Belichick said he's definitely happy to see his former player do well with another team. With one minor caveat, of course.

"As long as it's not against us on Sunday. He's a guy who did a good job for us and he's doing a good job in Cleveland."

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

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Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

FOXBORO - If Alan Branch is worried about his spot with the Patriots, he isn’t acting that way. A notorious slow starter, Branch played just six snaps in Sunday’s win at New Orleans. And to hear him talk, it’s business as usual.

“It’s not like you can practice 3 technique on a store clerk,” said Branch late Wednesday afternoon. When informed that he probably could if he wanted, Branch smiled and noted “you’d probably get arrested for that.”

All kidding aside, it was stark to see Branch’s ample behind stapled to the bench. He earned a two-year contract this offseason, and his presence on the interior has been critical to the defense’s success. But after getting pushed around a bit too often in that opening night loss to the Chiefs, Branch spent a lot more time watching then playing. Did he know that he wasn’t a big part of the plan?

“That’s another question you gotta ask Bill, man” said Branch. “That’s not something I can talk about.”

Branch has - at times - come off as nonchalant about the game. Wins, losses, big plays, no plays, none of it seems to change his demeanor. Knowing that, I asked him if he was frustrated by his lack of playing time.

“I mean every player wants to be on the field so it is what it is,” he responded. 

Does he think that he’ll be more involved Sunday against the Texans?

“I don’t know what they plan to do with me,” he said. “i just need to go in there and keep my head to the grindstone and work.”

That may be Bill Belichick’s plan: sitting the player to motivate him. It would also seem to be potentially the last resort, and with someone who clearly marches to the beat of his own drum, it’s unclear how he’ll respond.

Patriots-Texans practice report: Gronk sits out; Gilmore limited

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Patriots-Texans practice report: Gronk sits out; Gilmore limited

Wednesday's practice participation/injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Texans game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
RB Rex Burkhead (ribs)
OT Marcus Cannon (ankle/concussion)
TE Rob Gronkowski (groin)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
WR Danny Amendola (concussion/knee)
WR Phillip Dorsett (knee)
CB Stephon Gilmore (groin)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
WR Chris Hogan (knee)
LB Elandon Roberts (thumb)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)
WR Matthew Slater (hamstring)
DT Vincent Valentine (knee)

HOUSTON TEXANS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
G Jeff Allen (ankle)
CB Kevin Johnson (knee)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
TE Stephen Anderson (concussion)
RB Alfred Blue (ankle)
WR Will Fuller V (shoulder)
CB Jonathan Joseph (shoulder)
G Xavier Su'a-Filo (knee)
DE J.J. Watt (finger)

FULL PARTICIPATION
CB Marcus Burley (knee)
T Chris Clark (wrist)
WR Bruce Ellington (concussion)
TE Ryan Griffin (concussion)